UPDATE: Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for East Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley for Saturday night. Five to 15 centimetres will fall over the east coast and inland sections of Vancouver Island while five to 10 centimetres will fall over the Fraser Valley.

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It’s not over yet.

More snow is possible for the B.C. South Coast this weekend as a system moves over the region from the north.

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Environment Canada has released a special weather statement for Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, East Vancouver Island, Greater Victoria and the Southern Gulf Islands, saying the system will likely arrive Saturday night.

It will bring mixed precipitation, likely starting in the form of rain and shifting to snow later in the evening. Areas on higher terrain and inland should expect greater accumulations.

Five to 10 centimetres of snow is expected for East Vancouver Island  with a possible 15 centimetres falling around Nanaimo and Duncan. The Southern Gulf Islands and Greater Victoria will see less snow, between a trace and two centimetres, and the Malahat will see roughly five centimetres.

Metro Vancouver should expect only a trace to two centimetres of snow with a few more centimetres falling in eastern sections and the Fraser Valley.

The weather system will move on by Sunday morning, but another bout of snow could return on Tuesday.

Environment Canada says that system could be short-lived with warmer air and rain hitting the South Coast on Wednesday. Temperatures are expected to reach 9 C by Thursday.

Metro Vancouver has received 63.4 centimetres of snow since October, just slightly behind Edmonton’s total – 66.6 centimetres – for that period.

READ MORE:
The snow race is on: Vancouver’s snowfall total for this winter could soon surpass Edmonton’s

With this weekend’s storm, the race for winter glory could come to a head.

A series of small earthquakes off Vancouver Island in recent days likely aren’t a precursor of bigger shake ups to come, but are a reminder of the complex geological zones along coastal British Columbia, says a federal seismolgist.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported a magnitude 4.9 quake occurred Friday morning off Vancouver Island, while a 4.2 quake was recorded on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state on Thursday.

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Wednesday, there was a 4.4 temblor off western Vancouver Island and a 4.2 quake in Washington State, southwest of Seattle.

“That area has already been known to us to be very seismically active,” Honn Kao, a Natural Resources Canada research scientist, said Friday. “Having earthquakes in that particular location is not very much of a surprise to us. What happens at that place is it is a tectonically very complicated region.”

There were no reports of damage or injury in any of the recent earthquakes.

On average, Kao said there’s an earthquake in the same area every few days, but they are much too small to feel.

In 2014, there was a 6.4 magnitude quake in Nootka Sound on the central west coast of Vancouver Island and Kao said residents reported feeling motion like they were on a swing.

He said Friday’s quake was in the Pacific Ocean, 158 kilometres southwest of Port Hardy on Vancouver Island, in an earthquake zone where three geological plates meet.

The movements of the North American, Juan de Fuca and Explorer plates result in regular earthquakes, he said.

READ MORE:
Six-month military operation would follow major B.C. earthquake

Kao said it is not likely the recent earthquakes are connected to each other, noting the distances between them are too great.

Seismologists predict the movements of the Juan de Fuca and North American plates will one day result in a major earthquake on much of the West Coast, including Vancouver Island. But Kao said these quakes likely aren’t a sign of stronger shaking to come.

“At this moment we really do not have enough knowledge to predict how the big one can happen and when it is going to happen,” he said.

Kao said he agrees with the forecasts of seismologists who say the odds of the major earthquake and tsunami hitting the West Coast within the next 50 years are one-in-10.

The last major mega-thrust earthquake to occur off Vancouver Island struck more than 300 years ago on Jan. 26, 1700.

Seismologists say the magnitude 9 earthquake caused violent shaking for several minutes, followed by a tsunami wave that destroyed much of the western side of Vancouver Island.

About nine hours later, a tsunami the height of a four-storey building hit the Japanese coast on Jan. 27, 1700, destroying all in its path.

Julianne McCaffrey, spokeswoman at Emergency Management B.C., said the recent quakes are reminders that residents should prepare earthquake survival kits or check their current kits, just in case.

“Every earthquake is an example of why we as British Columbians need to be prepared,” she said. “Certainly, it’s a trigger for us to go through our plan and our kit. Just this morning before I left for work, my partner was going through our kit, again.”

McCaffrey said earthquake survival kits should have enough supplies to last about three days, including water, protein-rich foods and first-aid items.

As concern over skyrocketing hydro rates remains the focus at Queen’s Park, the leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party brought the issue to London.

Patrick Brown visited manufacturing company North Star Ice at 4 Stuart Street Saturday morning before meeting with local media to discuss Ontario hydro rates.

In a press release at the event, Brown stated “Small business owners are the backbone of our province but they’re struggling with Kathleen Wynne’s skyrocketing electricity prices.”

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    The Ontario PC leader cited the Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault’s comments on Friday when Thibeault stated that the party had made errors in some of their decisions that impacted energy rates.

    Brown spoke with AM980  Friday about the issues he’s concerned about in the energy portfolio.

    “For me, North Star is symbolic of what we’re seeing in the hydro crisis, Kathleen Wynne’s hydro crisis,” Brown said. “Here’s a company that employs local London residents and – back in 2008 before the hydro crisis – their hydro bill, at their busiest month, was $18,000 now it’s $39,000 during their busiest month. Their hydro bill, despite having a similar volume of hydro needed, is double.”

    “That’s breaking the back of businesses, it’s just not sustainable. I don’t want to see small businesses in London put under because of Kathleen Wynne’s hydro crisis.”

    Brown attributed hydro rate increases in part to the Green Energy Act and poor decisions on the part of the governing Liberal Party led by Premier Kathleen Wynne.

A crowd of drone industry leaders, politicians and residents gathered at the Foremost Aerodrome in south eastern Alberta Friday morning to watch the first Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) fly out of sight.

It’s something Transport Canada would usually frown upon but at Canada’s first active Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) test range in Foremost, Alta. it’s completely legal.

The first flight at the range is the result of over eight years of careful planning and coordinating between the Village of Foremost, Transport Canada and NAV Canada.

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Sterling Cripps, president of Canadian Unmanned Incorporated, originally brought forth the idea nearly a decade ago.

“I had a little tweak in my heart and said, ‘Wow, it actually happened,’” Cripps said.

Cripps says this is a milestone in Canadian Aviation history.

“This is the first step for legitimate operators, who are operating within the letter of the law to fly beyond visual line of sight, proving their capabilities that they can do it safely, competently, and with confidence going forward into the industry to provide the services they are capable of.”

The facility is expected to be particularly attractive for Canadian and international companies that wish to operate a drone out of sight.

Foremost Mayor Ken Kultgen supported this project since the beginning, calling it a new economic driver for the village.

“With our area, it’s hard to attract different industry that we don’t already have here, which is agriculture and oil and gas,” Kultgen said. “This seemed like it could actually be a really good fit.”

The airspace measures approximately 90 kilometres by 27 kilometres, or approximately 2,400 square kilometres up to 18,000 feet ASL.

UPDATE: The water ban was lifted Saturday morning. The latest information can be found here.

A ban on non-essential water use was put in place Friday afternoon in Strathcona County after a line break cut off the water connection into Sherwood Park.

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    EPCOR is working to fix the problem but county officials said there is no timeline for when the repairs will be complete.

    “The water ban is necessary to ensure the water stored in our reservoirs meets the demand for critical activities such as firefighting, drinking and cooking,” a media release from the county stated Friday afternoon.

    The county has about two days of water storage. Tammy Lockhart, with the Strathcona County utilities department, said the county has options to bring in more water if needed. Those contingency plans would likely be worked on starting Saturday, she said.

    “We could look at things such as hauling water to our reservoirs from other communities if needed,” Lockhart said.

    People are asked to use as little water as possible by taking short showers, turning off the tap while brushing their teeth and postponing non-essential laundry and dishwashing.

    “Try and push off any laundry that you have to do for the weekend; try not to wash your car this weekend. If you could reduce the number of showers or baths that you’re having, anything non-essential,” Lockhart said.

    Watch below: Would you pee in the shower to conserve water?

    Truck fill stations in Strathcona County will also be closed until further notice.

    “There are other communities that people can go to for truck fills such as Fort Saskatchewan and the city (of Edmonton),” Lockhart said.

    Updates on the water ban will be available around the clock online, on the county’s social media channels and by calling 780-417-2398. Residents can also sign up for Strathcona County Alerts on the county’s website.

Dozens of people gathered for a candlelight vigil on Friday night to remember a six-year-old boy who died after falling through the ice in Airdrie on Monday afternoon.

The boy and his brother were walking on the thin ice in Bayside when they both plunged into the water.

READ MORE: Memorial grows for Alberta boy who fell through ice in Airdrie

“As a sign of our love and support, we are asking Airdrie to come out and show this family that their community is here for them to lean on, to give support and love to them now and in the days, weeks and months to follow,” the organizer wrote in a Facebook group.

The vigil took place at the Bayside Bridge. Those in attendance recited the Lord’s Prayer and sang Amazing Grace as people placed candles, teddy bears and flowers along the bridge deck.

Watch below: A community in Airdrie continues to come to grips with the sudden and tragic loss of a little boy. A 6-year-old plummeted through thin ice on a neighborhood waterway. His 10-year-old brother is still recovering. Jill Croteau has the latest.

The six-year-old boy was airlifted to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in critical, life-threatening condition where he passed away.

His older brother was taken to hospital by ambulance in stable condition and was released the following day.

READ MORE: 6-year-old boy dies, brother in hospital after falling through ice in Airdrie

Watch below: The community of Airdrie is in shock after the death of a little boy and the near drowning of his brother. They were playing on a canal when they went through the ice. Kim Smith reports.

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RCMP have confirmed the presence of lethal W-18 in drugs seized in Surrey.

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W-18 is a powerful opioid 100 times stronger than fentanyl. It was previously discovered in Vancouver last April and also found in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

According to a release, Surrey RCMP seized pebble heroin in December 2016. The drugs were sent to Health Canada for analysis and recently came back positive for W-18.

In a similar case, West Shore RCMP on Vancouver seized what they believed to be cocaine in May 2016. The white powder substance was sent for analysis and tested positive for an analog of fentanyl – a new strain of the deadly opioid not seen in the region before.

At the time of the seizure, West Shore RCMP reported three overdoses in their jurisdiction.

“These lab results are once again prompting us to warn illicit drug users that it doesn’t matter where you buy your drugs, or who you get them from,” said BC RCMP’s Investigative Services and Organized Crime assistant commissioner Jim Gresham. “The danger is the same if you’re in the big city or in a small community. I cannot stress that enough – there is no safe haven.”

“You must be aware that at any time dangerous and potentially lethal drugs may be present in what you’re consuming. Unfortunately, there is no way for you to know what is really being sold to you. Please take steps to avoid making a potentially lethal decision,” he added.

The RCMP says it is currently investigating several cases of illicit drug trafficking and continues to receive more notices from B.C. communities regarding the presence of fentanyl in drugs.

Where does W-18 come from?

The drug comes from a “W-series” of opioid compounds first discovered at the University of Alberta in 1982, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. There are 32 compounds, W-1 to W-32, with W-18 being the most toxic.

W-18 is not currently regulated under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act and can be manufactured and bought freely, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

With files from Paula Baker

For sports fans, the next 18 months will be extra special as Regina will be hosting five major sporting events and at least one high-profile concert.

In 2017

Aug. 27: Guns N’ Roses Concert at new Mosaic Stadium

Sept. 5-10: Grand Slam of Curling’s season-opening Tour Challenge at the Co-operators Centre.

Oct. 26-29: Skate Canada International at the Brandt Centre

In 2018

Mar. 8-11: Canadian University Women’s Basketball Championship at University of Regina

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Mar. 17-27: Memorial Cup at the Brandt Centre

The Brandt Centre will still need to undergo upgrades to get it ready for the centennial Memorial Cup.

“We do know that there will be a requirement for more seats and we’ve accommodated that in the past for other events,” Regina Exhibition Association communications manager Paula Kohl said.

The whole property is really built around attracting those events, so we’re ready, bring it on.”

As the Brandt Centre prepares for upgrades, so too is Regina’s airport.

YQR airport boasted record-breaking passenger numbers last year, and that trend is expected to continue.

“We hit an all-time record of over 1.26 million passengers,” Regina Airport Authority president and CEO Richmond Graham said.

Graham said he expects to see passenger traffic double within the next decade and said the airport is ready to welcome the influx of visitors coming into the city.

“The mornings are very busy and the gate space are sometimes limited. But we do have expansion plans that we are working on,” Graham said.

“We see expansion to meet that requirement and we need to build into the future.”

Longtime volunteer Bernadette McIntyre said people have already started asking about volunteer opportunities.

“Right after we announced the Brier, we were getting calls. People were saying you know when it’s time to sign me up, let me know,” McIntyre said.

Despite a couple of events coinciding, McIntyre said she doesn’t believe there will be a shortage of volunteers nor volunteer fatique.

“We do have a little bit of overlap with the Brier and the CIS Women’s Basketball Championship but I think we got enough volunteers to make both those events huge successes,” she said.

McIntyre estimates there will be 600-700 volunteers for the Tim Horton’s Brier.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out that those teams with new stadiums at some point will get a Grey Cup to show support for them,” Mayor Michael Fougere said Thursday.

“I am wanting a Grey Cup, I’ll say that much. Whether it happens is another issue. I’m pushing for that,” he said.

“Stay tuned.”

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Dwayne Schnell was released on $3,000 no-cash bail Friday. The 37-year-old is facing a number of child pornography charges after an investigation by the Alberta Law Enforcement Teams (ALERT) Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) team.

Friday’s decision was a joint release between defence and the Crown.

Schnell will be residing in Calgary with his parents. He can not leave the province of Alberta. He has to report to a bail supervisor and can not work or volunteer in any position of trust or authority with children under 16.

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    READ MORE: Lethbridge teacher facing child pornography charges: ALERT

    Police said the investigation first began in January 2017 when ICE was given a tip from the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about a user who was uploading child sexual exploitation materials. The ICE team did not know the user was a teacher until recently.

    ALERT said the ICE team arrested Dwayne Schnell on Wednesday. He is charged with possession, accessing and distributing child pornography. A number of computers and electronic devices were seized from his home in Lethbridge and will be examined.

    Part of his release conditions are:

    He cannot have any device capable of accessing the Internet, like a computer or cellphone and can only go online at a public library.A peace officer or probation officer can conduct a warrant-less search of his residence at any time to make sure he is not using a computer or the Internet.He cannot have any contact with any children under 16 years of age, accept for his own two children (with his wife or parents present).He can’t have any type of recording devices like a camera or video recorder.He must not attend any area where children under 16 could be present like parks, schools, swinging pools, playgrounds or a daycare.

    Schnell has hired defence lawyer Greg White.

    He will be back in court for his next appearance March 24.

Shortly after being sentenced to 10 years in prison for a drunk driving crash that killed Jordan and Chandra Van de Vorst along with their children Kamryn and Migure, Catherine McKay was moved from a jail cell to a healing lodge.

It left Jordan’s father Lou Van de Vorst hurt and confused.

“When you say the words ‘federal penitentiary’ and ‘healing lodge,’ they have two different connotations. That’s what upset us … the consequences aren’t there,” Lou explained on Thursday.

WATCH: Lou Van de Vorst reacts to Catherine McKay’s move to a healing lodge

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    After Lou Van de Vorst spoke out about the move, it had many online outraged that McKay was getting off easy. But not many knew exactly what goes on at healing lodges.

    READ MORE: Drunk driver who killed 4 in Sask. sent to healing lodge; sparks community concern

    Correctional Service Canada (CSC) has nine healing lodges across the country, including three in Saskatchewan.

    Okimaw Ochi, located near Maple Creek is the only one in the province for women. Five of the facilities are managed by indigenous communities and the other four are managed by CSC in close collaboration with indigenous communities.

    In a statement, CSC said they offer a broad range of correction programs and interventions to decrease an inmate’s chance of re-offending. This includes healing lodges which are designed particularly to address the needs of indigenous offenders using culturally relevant correctional programs.

    “These correctional programs enhance public safety by making offenders accountable for their behaviour, changing their attitudes and beliefs, and teaching skills that can be used to cope and help address their behaviour.”

    READ MORE: Somber anniversary marked by Van de Vorst family

    In order to get into a healing lodge, an indigenous offender must demonstrate an interest in traditional healing paths and successfully complete various culturally appropriate interventions.

    “Based on a healing and holistic approach, indigenous programs target offenders’ needs in the context of indigenous history, culture, and spirituality while at the same time addressing the factors related to criminal behaviour. Aboriginal correctional program officers, elders, spirituality and ceremony are integral to program design and delivery.”

    According to CSC, healing lodges are an important part of preparing indigenous offenders for reintegration from custody into the community.

    There is no time limit for an inmate to stay in a healing lodge.

    Ed Dean, a Salvation Army clergy who has been involved in faith programs at Okimaw Ochi for 10 years, said the facility works to improve the inmates “whole self.”

    “It’s a sacred space. It’s a great spot for being with the creator and getting in touch with mother earth,” Dean said via Skype on Friday.

    “When they understand themselves and their culture, it’s a different way of life. It creates a positive way of life for them so they don’t return to their old ways.”

    READ MORE: Families impacted by drunk driving welcome new changes to Sask. impaired driving laws

    Dean said the women have to wake up at a specific time and be ready for counts. The day always starts with a ceremonial spiritual time. From there, the women go onto daily programming which is individualized and can include schooling and learning trades. It’s all about giving the inmates skills to succeed once they’re out.

    “Some of them are coming in with a low education and they’re leaving with a Grade 12 diploma.”

    “I would say that there should be more healing lodges in Canada. It’s a positive form of doing justice.”